The BBMP has signed a memorandum of understanding with a French company to set up the plant an 8 MW waste-to-energy plant at the cost of Rs 200 crore.

BBMP plans to install waste-to-energy plant in Mavallipura landfill but will it workRepresentation photo
news Civic Issues Friday, July 27, 2018 - 17:12

From driverless pod-taxis to pig-catching tenders, Bengaluru’s civic body – the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) – is known for its somewhat bizarre schemes. Now, the Palike has come up with another questionable idea: A waste-to-energy plant in the Mavallipura landfill.

The BBMP has signed a memorandum of understanding with a French company to set up the plant an 8 MW waste-to-energy plant at the cost of Rs 200 crore, which is said to generate energy from 1,000 tonnes of waste generated per day. The tender is expected to be floated in August. The Palike is planning to seek a subsidy of 35% from the state government, 25% from the Centre and the remaining money will come from the Mayor Fund.

Although, this sounds like a good plan on paper, experts say that the pattern of waste production in Bengaluru is one of the main reasons why such a waste-to-energy plant would fail terribly.

Speaking to TNM, Ramakanth, the Chairman of the BBMP Solid Waste Management Expert Committee, says that the committee was not even consulted before the plan was proposed and tenders were called for. No public consultation was carried out either, he alleges.

Ramakanth believes that in a city like Bengaluru, where the wet waste amounts to 60% of the total garbage produced, the waste-to-energy plant is bound to fail.

“Most of the waste produced in Bengaluru is wet waste. If the plant is going to be in Mavallipura, then the waste being pushed into the plant is mixed waste. So, most of the energy generated by the plant will go into removing the moisture from the wet waste and this is neither feasible nor profitable,” Ramakanth says.

The BBMP will have to separate the wet waste and dry waste and ensure that only the non-biodegradable combustible dry waste is sent to the plant for conversion to energy.

A source in the BBMP expert committee who doesn’t want to be names says, “According to the NGT order in 2016, only dry waste which is combustible – like chips packets – can be sent to the waste-to-energy plant. This is because the compost generated from the wet waste is crucial for agricultural activities. In a landfill like Mavallipura, the waste is all mixed up. The BBMP has offered no plan as to how they are going to separate millions of tonnes of waste and then send the acceptable dry waste into the plant.”

According to the source, the BBMP has to place the conditions of the agreement with the French company in public domain. Also, details about environmental clearance also needs to be in the public domain.

“The BBMP has to put the tender and agreement details along with the DPR (detailed project report) on its website. People should know where their money is going. If the plan is shoddy and not feasible like the one in Mandur, which failed, then it would be a waste of money. The BBMP is just grabbing on to any idea of garbage management without considering its merits,” the source added.

The Mandur example

In 2005, the BBMP entered into an agreement with Srinivasa Gayathri Resource Recovery Limited, gave the company land and money to set up a waste-to-energy plant. Twelve years after this agreement, the plant was never constructed and not a single watt of power was generated, nor was any waste converted to compost.

The BBMP also messed up. The Palike kept transporting around 1,000 tonnes of garbage per day to the site in Madnur, even though the plant was not yet ready. Over the years, Mandur landfill became the icon of Bengaluru’s garbage problem and the symbol of BBMP’s incompetence. The plant has cause many deaths of residents due to the leachate leaking into the aquifers; and mosquitoes causing dengue deaths.

Now, the Palike is planning to set up another such plant in the Mavallipura landfill. The jury is out on whether this plan will work.

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